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Marketing Automation in the Digital Age
by Subodh Rane
One of the many exciting trends shaping up today’s industry is Marketing Automation. Traditionally, the customer lifecycle started from the point where the first order was placed. However with the modern digital age, the lifecycle has stretched a little bit backwards – it starts from the point when the campaign lands in the prospect’s Inbox. Marketing Automation relies heavily on the digital footprint created by the prospects and with the emergence of big data, Marketing Algorithms are bound to evolve further to harness the vast consumer information.
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Factors Driving Marketing Automation
Some of the key factors driving marketing automation are:
Rationalize Marketing Content: Traditionally, companies have adopted “push” marketing strategies, wherein the buyer was bombarded with marketing communication irrespective of whether he or she is interested or not. Now it has become imperative to identify the right target segment, send automated communication when it is relevant enough and enthuse the prospect to visit the website. It is important that the company tracks this and reaches out to the customer before the competition does. An automated marketing campaign sending personalized email sent to the buyer at a moment when he is searching for information on a search engine would become more relevant, much more engaging and might end up in a sales without any sales person intervention.
Align Sales and Marketing: The quality of the lead has been a big concern and an issue of disagreement with the marketing and sales team. Companies are making efforts to bring the two teams together by making them share accountability and at the same time provide transparent visibility into each other’s performance. Companies are adopting to Revenue Marketing, where Marketing teams are made more accountable for the dollars spend in campaigns vis-a-vis contribution to the lead conversions and sales pipeline.
Track and Measure Marketing ROI: A lot of dollars have dripped away in the costly marketing programs thus impacting the overall bottom-line. A key aspect of this has been inability of the marketing programs to measure their ROI accurately. John Wannamaker (the father of modern advertising) famously once said - “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” With the budgets getting snugger, companies are looking for accurate visibility in the ROI at any stage of the marketing program.
Less IT and more business focus: One of the typical complaints by few marketers is that IT systems are too complex and managing a campaign in an IT system is too labor intensive. The need of the hour is to equip the marketing teams to conceptualize and design compete marketing campaigns right from creating landing pages and content to execution in a simplified way and minimal time. A lot of effort typically goes in collecting and maintaining prospect data, all this needs to be automated with minimal human intervention.
Gamut of Marketing Automation
Campaign Management: Automated Campaign Management is the engine of Marketing Automation. Traditionally, companies used email marketing and adopted carpet bombing techniques. But the issue with this is, there was no way of measuring the effectiveness. With Modern Marketing Automation, companies engage with their prospects, track their activities on the internet, provide the right content at relevant time, nurture the prospect and qualify the leads. All this is automated with minimal human intervention until the lead gets passed to the sales team.
Let us look at this with a simple example: a luxury car manufacturer wants to target CEOs and other top dignitaries about a new luxury car launch. The key here is to 1) get the target segment right to improve conversion rate 2) get the communication right and relevant to nurture the prospect and 3) provide qualified leads to the sales team. A traditional approach to make a target segment would have been to filter out all contacts with a particular designation. The problem with this approach is that we really don’t know if all of them would be interested at all. A modern approach is to further refine the segment with rules likes visited webpage in last 6 months or exclude prospects who never open previous email content. Once the email is sent, the prospect might come to the website landing page. This action would mean that the prospect is interested but not qualified enough yet to be considered a lead. Nurturing in the form of sending relevant communication based on the activities on the website would further improve the conversion rate. If the prospect is scrolling through the product features, product guide can be sent or if the prospect is scrolling through the costs, communication on the finance schemes and discounts can be sent.
Lead Management: The second most important aspect is lead management. In today’s context, with all the prospects having a digital footprint be it on social platform or otherwise on the internet, there is a whole lot of intelligence that can be analyzed and used for lead scoring. . Profile based lead scoring has given way to activity based lead scoring or the combination of the two wherein the behavioral aspects of the prospect are captured and analyzed. Through Marketing Automation, it is possible to gather insights on the frequency of web visits, web activity of the prospects over a period , email clicks over a period [and emails ignored], e-mail click-through to determine which e-mails the prospects have viewed , search activity done by the prospect over a period, tweets or any other activity in the social media etc. Marketing Automation takes into account the behavioral aspects of the prospect along with the profile of the prospect for lead scoring.
Social Integration: Marketing Automation uses social media to engage with prospect, listen to their buying intentions and create social brand advocates. For example; a car manufacturer can launch a campaign on a social platform targeting a CEO group for a launch of an exciting sports car equipped with the latest automated gadgets. A single button click “Tell Me More” by the prospect on the social wall would mean an interest shown by the prospect which can be nurtured further. The prospect can also act like a brand advocate and share the same with his contacts. “Likes” could mean interest expressed by the contacts and the data can be used for nurturing campaigns.
Campaign Analysis: With Marketing Automation, it becomes easy for the company to attribute the revenue to a particular campaign and give credit of the revenue to the campaign where it is due. At any point of time, the company can track no of leads/revenue that each campaign has generated and decide to stop one of the campaigns if it is proving to be non-effective. For example, a company can track the website traffic by source [like Email Campaign, Search Engine or Social Media]. Also, further tracking on what are the top web pages that the prospect has accessed can give visibility on product interests.
How companies could benefit by adopting Marketing Automation?
Improved control and visibility over marketing spending
Superior lead scoring, resulting in improved predictability and superior conversion rate.
Integration with CRM packages, providing sales team with sales ready leads
Improved Business Focus by elimination mundane manual tasks done by marketing teams
Closed loop reporting with superior analytics giving vital insights into marketing metrics
One important aspect that is going to shape up marketing automation is the delivery of content over mobile phones. Mobile phones are increasingly becoming an integral part of life and hence it is imperative that the content delivered is suitable and optimized for mobile screens. This will ensure possibilities to engage with prospects over the mobile and make them sales ready.